Steadfastly sticking to playing international music has paid off for Vh1 as the channel chalks out an aggressive growth plan for the year ahead. Launched in January 2005, the channel today reaches over 20 million households across India. Globally, Vh1 is available across 148 million households in over 124 countries / territories.
Elaborating on the channel’s marketing strategy, Associate General Manager Ferzad Palia said, “We have done a fair amount of marketing for Vh1. When we have to promote a property, we use various forms of media such as web, outdoor, etc. Sunday Brunch had a fairly big outdoor promotion.”
Palia further said, “We doubled our revenue last year – we grew by 100 per cent, and are expecting next another 100 per cent growth.”
“Vh1 does lot of interaction sessions with viewers through events. We have Vh1 Ticket to Ride, a show where a lucky winner gets the opportunity to go on an all expense paid trip to watch some of the biggest music artistes in the world. So far, this year we’ve had four concerts by Bruce Springsteen (in London), Celine Dion (in Paris), Santana (in Frankfurt) and Coldplay (in London),” he added.
Promotion and comparisons
The channel has a clear focus on its promotion strategy and feels there is no point in advertising on a mass entertainment channel just to make people aware of Vh1 when it is not relevant to them.
Palia added, “Vh1 was created as part of the network because most of the music channels went mass, as in Hindi language. So, Vh1 is the only channel which plays only international music. It was created for people who grew up on international music, but had no platform in the country to get exposed to it. Even radio doesn’t play international music.”
He further said, “It is very incorrect to compare MTV and Vh1. MTV has a complete different audience, it talks to the youth, while Vh1 talks to both youth plus a slightly more mature audience in the 25-45 age-group. Of course, we are very strong amongst the 15-24 age-group as well. We are also strong when it comes to groups like corporates, professionals, CEOS and so on, who watch Vh1. In terms of the product, Vh1 is completely different. MTV is a youth entertainment mega brand, whereas Vh1 is an international music and lifestyle mega brand.”
Commenting broadly on the target group, Palia said, “We cater to the 16- 44 SEC AB demographically. We have different audience tuning in at different times of the day. We have contemporary tracks played during the day time and classic stuff early in the morning.”
On and off TV screens
When pointed out that Vh1 was still not available regularly in some areas of Mumbai, Palia admitted it was a very strange problem. He said, “It does happen in the industry today very often. Certain channels get ‘bumped off’ due to various reasons, it could be due to technical problems, the cable operator might choose to put a channel at a particular time, and so on.”
Vh1 is available on Tata Sky and DishTV, besides through regular cable and satellite across the country.
Not on the TPR game
Commenting on the overall response in terms of TRPs, Palia said, “TVRs will never be for niche channels. We don’t monitor TVRs, no media planner would ever buy on the basis of TVRs. We don’t even locate TVRs because the sample size of monitoring is very small and a research needs a particular amount of base to be able to arrive at some analysis.”
“In terms of how the consumer has responded, the response has been fantastic. We have grown by leaps and bounds, much ahead of our own projection when we started this channel. In that respect, we have done extremely well. In terms of advertisers on the channel, we have more than 120 brands advertising on the channel. Today, Vh1 has become the hallmark for anything international in this country, it is an aspirational brand. We are expecting at least 150-175 advertisers by the end of this year.”
Content plans and new shows
Vh1 has its own creative team. Hashim D’souza, Senior Manager - Content, Acquisitions and Artist Relations, and his team looks after deciding what, when, and how often a track is to be played, what is India-friendly and what is not. That’s the way programming and scheduling is done for Vh1.
Speaking on the content, D’souza said that a lot of new thing had been added and more would be added in coming weeks. The entire look of Vh1 has also been changed to give the channel a refreshing look and feel.
On re-launching Vh1, Palia said that there were no such plans at present, but there were plans to further strengthen the channel in India. He added that Vh1 would be launching some new shows on music and lifestyle in the coming weeks. Vh1 had launched two shows, ‘Sunday Brunch’ and ‘Gods of Guitar’ in March and May, respectively.
“We are in the process of taking ‘Vh1 Dance 101’, which is an existing property, on ground. For that we are getting DJs from UK’s Ministry of Sound to perform for us in Hyderabad, Delhi and Kolkata on July 2, 4 and 5, respectively.”
Another upcoming show is ‘Vh1 Divas’, which would showcase the powerful women of music. The show would be aired every weeknight at 8 pm throughout July.
Vh1 is also mulling a tech show that aims to showcase the best guitarist, drummer, saxophone player, etc. However, nothing has been confirmed on this yet.
D’souza said, “We are also looking at launching a request show and an international countdown show. We are basically focusing on interactive shows, wherein we will get the opportunity to talk to our viewers and vice versa, and play their requests, etc.”
The road ahead
As for the channel’s plans for 2009, Palia said, “We are working on various clients, which is lot to do with broad basing our audience. Those will come in very soon, may be even before 2009. We have lots of new stuff lined up for the coming months.”
On merchandising, he said, “We don’t sell Vh1 branded merchandise as yet, but have very aggressive plans regarding this for the end of 2008. Very soon Vh1 branded merchandise would be available.”